In the Clipper 2013-14 Race, after a flying start to Race two of Leg one from London to Rio when the early stages from Brest produced some record speeds in excess of 30 knots on the new design Clipper 70s, the past week has seen fleet battling the frustrations of the Doldrums.
Patience was rewarded with the twelve strong fleet of ocean racing yachts finally breaking free with Jamaica Get All Right celebrating crossing the Equator first over the weekend, closely followed by PSP Logistics and Qingdao.
Following some high spirited equator crossing ceremonies, the entire fleet is now vying for two extra points which will be rewarded to the boat that cross a 300-mile Ocean Sprint between two predetermined lines in the fastest time.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston described the conditions in the Doldrums as ‘exceptional’, in hampering the progress of the fleet more than ever experienced in any other edition of the Clipper Race.
Eric Holden, skipper of Henri Lloyd and Weather Forecaster for the Canadian Sailing Team at the London 2012 Olympic Games described the unique sailing conditions which slowed the fleet’s progress.
'In all my years studying the Doldrums, this has got to be the slowest passage I could have foreseen. The tropical wave activity moving off Africa has been relentless. It started with the development of Hurricane Humberto, itself a very rare event for a hurricane to form so far east, and has continued almost unabated ever since.'
Skipper of One DLL, Olly Cotterell, who started the Ocean Sprint yesterday, described his strategy for the next section of the race.
'The front of the fleet entered the Scoring Gate with a lot of south in the wind. This will have forced them onto a slower point of sail and made the distance across the gate greater for them. We are hoping that the wind does what is forecast and goes to the east. If this is the case then we should have a chance to put in a good run through this gate with some points hopefully up for grabs!'
As the rest of the fleet battle to make gains Team Garmin, Invest Africa and Switzerland are the final group to break free of the doldrums and are expected to cross the Equator in the next 24 hours.
by Ruth Harrington
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12:17 PM Tue 1 Oct 2013GMT
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